If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, it’s only common sense to have your dog use it! But what if you don’t have a fence? Or what if your dog jumps over your fence and escapes? Can you train your dog to stay in the yard?
My first suggestion to keep your dog in the yard is always going to be to improve your fence. No matter how much training you do, if there’s no physical barrier in place, you’re taking a gamble. Most dogs can’t overcome a six-foot fence with coyote rollers. This has the added benefit of keeping cats, dogs, wildlife, and other people out!
I absolutely don’t recommend invisible fences. While an invisible fence might help keep your dog in, they won’t keep anyone else out. Passers-by might try to pet or entice your dog, wildlife can come in, and other dogwalkers might not realize your dog is contained and feel nervous because of your dog’s apparent freedom. There have been documented cases of increased aggression by dogs around the barriers of invisible fences, and, maybe worse, of dogs escaping invisible fences and being hit by a car. They’re simply no replacement for a physical barrier.
If you can’t put up a fence for some reason – you rent, there’s an HOA, or they’re cost-prohibitive, your best bet is to supervise your pet while she’s in the yard. Use outdoor gates, which are temporary and affordable, to help contain your pet. You can hide some treats in the grass, hang out with a seasonal beverage, and enjoy time spent with your dog.
Help make it fun for your dog to hang out in the yard. Then she’ll be less likely to try and roam. Simply putting your dog in the back yard isn’t that fun for most dogs; they want social interaction from you, physical games and exercise, and hidden food to make it amazing to hang out in the yard! Making your yard super-fun within the physical barrier will stack the deck in your favor.
While you’re outside with your dog, be sure to reward her when she sees tempting items outside your yard. Call her to you for some chicken when a kid walks past or a squirrel chatters from the neighbor’s yard.
Another option to train your dog to stay in the yard is using Tie-outs, but can be risky if your dog gets tangled in them.
Of course, training your dog to stay close is technically an option as well. But no matter how much training you do, there’s always a possibility that someone will entice your dog away with food, that your dog will become frightened by something and run to hide, that the most tempting bunny ever runs past your fence. I would never put all my trust in training a dog to stay close when unsupervised. It’s just too risky!
Find more training tips here.